December 30, 2006

Thanks for the calls

To those who have called me so far, I do appreciate it.

Coach Williams leaving Lancaster High?

That’s the word I’ve heard, with him leaving to become a principal in Dallas ISD. It’s a good career step forward for him, if true, but another good teacher that Lancaster doesn’t need to lose.

Hussein’s death a milestone to nothing

Yes, the former leader of Iraq wantonly and deliberately killed hundreds of thousands of his own people in various ways. But, our military actions have killed even more Iraqi civilians, and are NOT a “milestone to democracy” any more than is Hussein’s death, contrary to proclamations of our own Beloved Leader, President Bush, who is still deliberately looking for the pony under an ever-shrinking Christmas tree.

Hussein’s death is only a milestone to the next milestone: The 3,000th U.S. military death in Iraq, which will itself probably occur before the end of the year.

Beyond that, Iraq is about as close to “democracy” as the U.S. is to electing a Green Party president. Whether Bush is more lying, more self-delusional or more ignorant, I’m still not sure, but I know he’s some combination of all three.

Shrub, you got your trophy head on the wall (or in the noose). Of course, evidence says that Kuwait made up much of the details, if not the entire situation, of the alleged assassination attempt on your dad in 1993. And, since Kuwait made up the 1990 stories about Kuwaiti babies being snatched from hospital incubators, with the help of Edelman PR, that fact should surprise nobody.

In any case, Mr. President, you bagged your trophy, but revenge, whether served hot or cold, often gives the server himself indigestion. (Of course, recognizing that fact requires some degree of self-awareness.)

December 29, 2006

The Euro: eroding the era of “dollar diplomacy”?

The Euro now makes up 24 percent of world foreign currency reserves, an astonishing number for a 5-year-old currency that had many detractors at the time of its introduction.

And, many countries, including China and some Gulf oil states, are looking at increasing their Euro holdings.

It sounds like more and more foreign currency traders see opportunities to leverage the two against each other. Will we have a George Soros making a major run on dollars, or Euros, instead of southeast Asian currency, in the future?

Copper theft: Not just from Dallas light poles

In Germany, thiefs’ target of choice is wiring for railroad signals, potentially even more dangerous than putting streets in the dark.

Oh, geez, science history gets further sacrificed by the National Park Service

The Bush Administration is unwilling to put “creation science” to an actual scientific test at Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”

Is it any wonder that international comparisons of high school students’ scores on standardized tests show us falling further and further behind in the natural sciences.

A Lancaster Today last will and testament on an LISD open records request

Anybody who wants to has my permission to pick up the information to whatever answers the district provides to my follow-up request on thefts at the new Lancaster High School.

1. Construction manager Elvin Lotten said in response to the Nov. 10, 2006 open records request: “Installation of the specified key cores was not performed by LISD staff.”
So, it was performed by some subcontractor under the supervision of Gallagher?
Who was this subcontractor?

2. When was this work supposed to be done?

3. If installation of the original set of cores did not start until after the start of the school year, were teachers aware of what was and was not secure?

4. When did the original, incorrect cores arrive?

5. When did work on installation begin?

6. When was it noticed that the cores were incorrect?

7. How long did it take to order a second set of cores?

8. Were they (teachers) updated as to the situation after you realized that the original set of cores was incorrect?

And, here is another one, not yet submitted, that is free game for whoever wants to file:

1. Total number of staff directly involved with the International Baccalaureate program (hereafter referred to as IB). If staff person’s primary job, or more than one-half time, is devoted to IB, such as a coordinator, please provide name and title, as well as salary.

2. Number of trips for training and other purposes made by Lancaster School District staff to IB events.

3. Number of staff attending each trip.

4. Total travel cost to the district for each trip.

5. Number of days of each trip.

Larry Lewis, meet Jeff Melcher, and vice versa; enjoy each other

You will have fun being each other’s Tar Baby with me gone.

Jeff gets to be even more obnoxious, and with one less target for his obnoxiousness, it should be even more focused.

Jeff, I would actually give money to TIGER for May electoral purposes, but not with you around on it. I’d shake hands with Hitler, Hussein or Tommy Tompkins first. I hope a CREDIBLE opponent for the next bond issue arises; if not, I’ve written enough about the school district that sensible people won’t vote for a bond anyway.

And, most the people I’ve said goodbyes to, or talked to about the school district, are also looking for that same sort of credible opposition. And, it isn’t just me; they don’t include you there either.

(Oh, good luck with getting an opponent for Carolyn; neither city nor school board seats in North Lanc have been opposed since I’ve been here, and I think since the start of single-member districts.)

Or, if you really get tired of tangling with Larry, or miss semi-slanderous and idiotic, uninformed sniping at me, you can go ahead and demonstrate just how clear-thinking you are by following through on the idea of enlisting and going over to Iraq.

(Beloved Leader is still pimping his idea of a “surge,” so warm bodies are wanted.)

Larry, meanwhile, gets to continue to try salesmanship with the mask of faith-based leadership being more exposed.

Of course, even with it being on record now that the school board knows about Richard Gonzales, and should ask questions about Lewis’ hiring decisions elsewhere, it probably won’t.

Sorry, Larry, and Nannette and the rest of the school board. Faith-based talk can’t change facts through miracles, and Fortune 500 salesmanship can’t gloss over them.

Nor does blaming problems on the small, small portion of the district that includes the city of Dallas solve anything.

Fortunately, Tommy didn’t get The Preserve passed, or Lancaster really would be in trouble.

Lancaster ISD teachers — 20 percent “voting with their feet”?

That’s the rumor on the street — as many as 20 percent are leaving as of the holidays/midyear.

And I believe teacher retention rate is part of Superintendent Larry Lewis’ evaluation.

Of course, the school board will believe whatever it hears on this issue anyway, or most of it will.

Since all seven board members have full details of Richard Gonzales’ certification revocation, I wonder if THAT will come up during the evaluation.

Bling factor in building new Lancaster High?

Is part of the reason we have things like the culinary arts program getting an unneeded and unwanted $25,000 dishwasher, or the orchestra program getting unwanted gowns bought for next year, a “bling” issue?

Remember, appearances aren’t necessarily everything, but they can still be deceiving.

December 28, 2006

Advertising myself for a job

Yes, I've committed to the Navasota newspaper, but nothing in life is permanent.

With that said, I'm posting my resume here. If anybody out there has any contacts, suggestions, etc., I'm open. Feel free to copy this, forward it, etc. Or, if anybody is interested, I can send you a Word version, properly formatted.



STEPHEN J. SNYDER
E-mail: socraticgadfly@hotmail.com

OBJECTIVE: A communications position using my skills and experience in writing, editing, design, management, leadership, initiative, training, communication, and analytical and synthetic thinking.

BACKGROUND: More than 10 years editing and writing experience encompassing editing, marketing, advertising, publication layout and design, policy issues and research. Strong analytical and creative abilities. Proficient with QuarkXPress, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Pagemaker, and various word processing programs. Familiar with Associated Press and other editorial styles.

BUSINESS SKILLS
- Editing - Writing - Public speaking - Marketing
- Desktop publishing - Website editing - Researching - Analyzing

COMPUTER SKILLS
- QuarkXPress - Adobe Photoshop - PowerPoint - Front Page

December 27, 2006

The lowdown on Eagle PAC, just in time for Tommy and Steve to pop up again in 2007

Somebody quite familiar with Tommy Tompkins (hope you took a long shower after being entangled with him) and Steve Topletz is spilling the beans on Eagle PAC and sticking a few shivs into others at the same time.

Eagle Political Action Committee was formed in 2005 to finance three Lancaster City Council election challengers. But, the incumbent most in the PAC’s eye was Carol Strain-Burk, because she won’t roll over and play dead.

(Actually, as far as design standards, the city is STILL one development code behind the curve, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, give Ten Mile Crook a read.

I actually agree with the National Park Service on this one

It’s called special user fees.

The NPS is now charging fees for things such as wedding photography in national parks.

And why not? It’s additional wear and tear beyond usual use, and a lot of city parks, such as the Dallas Arboretum, I believe, have similar policies.

Thoughts on the passing of Jerry Ford

A. Ford WAS a conservative, or considered so at the time. The goalposts have been moved a fair amount in 30 years, between neocons and the rise of the religious right.

That said, Ford was a decent man.

B. His pardon of Nixon was wrong. Ford started his admin with one foot ethically in the hole. Made it look like a “deal” had been cooked up even if it hadn’t. Made it even look like a deal had been cooked to get Ford the No. 2 job the year before. And, as some other bloggers have noted, it set a precedent for pardoning criminals from the late-Reagan Iran-Contra affair and more.

See the paragraph above. As someone decent, I think Ford really believed the pardon would help more than it hurt, and he miscalculated personally, professionally and politically. AND Nixon showed none of the contrition that Ford originally indicated was a precondition.

C. The Helsinki Accords on human rights in eastern Europe? Half wrong. Perhaps it was the best we could halfway expect out of the half-senile Brezhnev, but we didn’t have to publically tout them. Combine that with Ford's "no domination of Eastern Europe" statement and that probably cost him the election right there.

D. The election. 1976 may not only have marked the end of an era of older, sensible, Gerald Ford and Barry Goldwater-type conservatism, it also was the end of an era of presidential campaigning. You won’t find a race that civil, and that relatively low-dollar, today.

Sick, a bit … maybe a bit depressed, tired or whatever

I guess the reality is sinking in a bit more today. Of course, getting back to DFW Airport at 11 p.m. Christmas Day, then putting in an hour and a half at the office that night before actually getting home, probably is part of the mix.

And, I may just be thinking about people and places in Lancaster, as well as around the Metroplex, that I will miss.

If all the spammers wishing me Merry Christmas …

Were real people, I’d be surrounded by a million friends.

What a difference a week makes in nature

We have a fair-sized bur oak on the south side of our office. Last Wednesday, before I flew out to Arizona, it had about half its leaves still on it. Today? It’s bare.

But, at least I’m in Texas and not Michigan. It would have been bare before Thanksgiving.